Submitted by Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, Conference Minister
Last Friday and Saturday it was my privilege to be with the SCC Board of Directors. We discussed many forward-thinking possibilities for securing a robust future for our beloved conference. Your conference is in good hands.
Just the couple days before that I was privileged to attend the Fall meeting of the New Orleans Association. The joy, enthusiasm, and personalities involved always make the trip to New Orleans energizing. Many thanks to the Eickelmanns’ who allow me to stay free in their condo thus saving the SCC many dollars. Sunday morning following NOLA I attended the 5th anniversary of Central St. Matthews’ congregation in New Orleans. They, of course, represent the merger of a historic African American congregation and the no less notable Central church. I always come away from New Orleans with a greater belief in our future together.
On a somewhat different note, I spent a portion of the prior week undergoing medical testing and a visit with a specialist in Los Angeles. The verdict is great and not so great. The not so great news is that I am on the front end of cancer. The technical diagnosis is “smoldering myeloma.” Myeloma is a blood cancer quite treatable but not curable at this point in time. The good news is that I appear to be very early and as the doctor announced “likely to live a long life.” Despite being a person of faith and the doctor’s “happy note” myeloma is a very serious diagnosis. Following the initial shock and despair, I am now fine. Of course, lol, my fineness is subject to abrupt change.
As you might imagine this diagnosis raised within my mind the question; “So, what do I want to do with the rest of my time on earth?” My 43 years in ordained ministry has been a joy and I see no reason to leave the ministry. From A to Z, co-dependent, call it whatever you wish, I am a clergy person till Christ calls me home. However, the long hours and locations for ministry have prevented me from being the kind of grandparent I would have liked. This is going to change.
This is not a letter of resignation, sorry:)), but it is an acknowledgment that I will not be serving out the entirely of my term, approximately 4 more years. There is an advantage to knowing this as it allows our conference to rationally reflect on how we wish to be organized moving forward into the future. Consequently, I have asked the Board of Directors to form a team to address these aforementioned issues along with a succession plan and they have already begun the process. Your suggestions are welcome. Need I say, with my usual humility, I have already offered a bit of my own input:)) I will weigh in with structural input but I will recuse myself from any additional suggestion of particular persons.
This medical piece has been a couple of months in-process and hard on the heels of my dog’s cancer. It has been a challenging summer but God is good and me and mine are OK.
Let me thank you once again for the privilege of leading the finest conference in the UCC.
Peace and joy,